International Law students can choose to compete in various international moot court competitions for class credit, including Phillip C. Jessup, ICC Moot Court, and Jean Pictet. However, these competitions are not for the faint at heart and not to be entered lightly! They are huge time commitments that will span several quarters, consuming at least two of them. It was my privilege to serve as coach for this year’s ICC Moot Court team, and I am awed by the team’s heroic effort and dedication to excellence.
The team assembled in the first quarter, and the three briefs – prosecution, victim, and defense – were due near the end of the second quarter. The third quarter featured first national qualifying rounds and then, at the very end of the quarter, the international rounds. All in conjunction with class work, term papers and projects, and externship/clinical program demands. Even from my purely supporting role on the sidelines, it was a grueling race to the finish! Endless mooting and brainstorming sessions in the weeks leading up to the final rounds; then the week of the final rounds, the entire team sharing a rented apartment in The Hague, working day and night to prepare our three presenters, all non-native English speakers, for their submissions and rebuttals. It was a phenomenal experience to watch the team rally in the face of obstacles such as the belated receipt of opposing counsel briefs, and come out fighting – strong, resilient, and holding their own against the best teams in world. It was an exciting week, and an exhausting one!
Deciding to enter such a competition is much like deciding to run a marathon. Anyone in good health can run a 5K, a distance easily managed in 30 minutes or so. Most can also manage a 10K; a half-marathon within reach of those willing to commit to a training schedule. But marathons are something else; they are definitely not for everyone. They require a long-term commitment to daily interval training. You must not only push yourself but pace yourself, develop an instinct for knowing when to take a break and when to push through pain and injuries. And in beginning such a race, you must see it through to the end. There can be no whimpering back to the starting line when you hit the wall; rather, you carry on and move forward, albeit limping and groaning every step of the way, to the finish line. The only losers are those who lose heart and give up. Everyone who crosses that finish line is a winner, because in the end it’s not about how fast you ran or who got there before you; rather, it’s about setting a goal and seeing it through. Your toughest competition will always be with yourself.
Life is also like a marathon; not for the faint of heart! Setbacks, defeats, unexpected health issues, deaths, betrayals, and just plain weariness can at times make you want to give up. But after a good rant, a good cry, a good sleep, you realize you are no quitter, you get that second wind, and you push through to the finish. No matter what or who in life lets you down, you will always have yourself to fall back on. And, those very special team mates who will never, ever, let you down. They are out there, you will find them, and they will help you rally to the finish. Victory is sweet!